On-Site Sewage System (OSS) Failure
Your system may appear to be working fine, when it is actually failing. Well-cared for systems are designed to last 20 to 30 years. Failure will eventually be caused by saturation of the surrounding soils by organics, but other factors can lead to premature failure.
Some Potential Causes Of OSS Failure:
- Pipes blocked by roots.
- Soils saturated by storm water.
- Crushed tile.
- Improper location.
- Poor original design or poor installation.
- Lack of proper care and maintenance.
Signs and Symptoms Of A Failing OSS:
- Rotten egg smell inside or outside.
- Sewage backing up into toilets, drains, or bathtubs; this is often seen as black liquid with a foul odor.
- Sewage coming up through the ground at the drainfield or septic tank site.
- Slow draining plumbing fixtures.
- Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.
- Sewage ponding (>6) within the monitoring ports in the drainfield.
- Bright, green grass over the drainfield.
What To Do If Your OSS Fails:
A failing system requires immediate attention to protect the health of those in the household as well as the watershed.
- Contact Whatcom County Health Department at (360) 676-6724. They can give you immediate advice on what to do.
- Have the system pumped. This will buy you some time while waiting to get the system fixed, but it is critical that you conserve water in the meantime. Pumping, once the system has failed is only a short-term fix.
Health Department’s List Of Licensed On-Site Sewage Systems (OSS) Septic Tank Pumpers
- Have the system inspected to determine the cause of failure. Remedy the problem to prevent future failure.
- Fix it or look into the possibility of hooking up to the public wastewater treatment system.
- If a public sewer system is within 200 feet of the residence, you are required by Whatcom County Code (24.05.030) to hook up to it upon failure of your system
- Replacement or repair must be with a permitted conforming system or a permitted repair.